Why should K-12 leaders support esports? Let us count the reasons

Learn how some early adopters brought the benefits to high school students despite some initial doubt and resistance.

Higher attendance, deeper engagement and better mental health are just three of the benefits of esports to students. So, do you want to know how some early adopters of esports—also known as scholastic gaming—launched one of the first high school programs despite some initial pushback?

Kristy Custer, the vice president of educational innovation at the High School Esports League, will tell that story in her presentation, “Why Administrators Should Support Esports in Schools,” at the 2023 Future of Education Technology® Conference in New Orleans in January. She’ll also explain that esports can encompass for-credit classes, competitive gaming and social activities. “Scholastic gaming mixes the structure of school with the fun of esports into engaging curricular and co-curricular activities that students and teachers love,” Custer says.

Attendees to FETC will find several more opportunities to expand their esports horizons:

Developing the whole child through esports

Developing a Comprehensive K-12 Esports Program: Learn how esports can be a valuable opportunity to develop the whole student as it supports health and wellness and guides students toward skills and passions in gaming, programming and other esports industries. Presenter Julie Mavrogeorge, the work-based learning and esports coordinator at Fresno USD, will detail how an esports program can anchor CTE pathways in graphic design, game design, video production, and broadcasting. Students in her district are learning video production, event planning, tournament management, shout casting and other college and career skills.

FETC 2023

The Future of Education Technology® Conference takes place live and in-person Jan. 23-26, 2023, in New Orleans. Register now!

SEL benefits of esports

Correlating Esports and SEL Core Competencies: Personalized social-emotional learning can be embedded into esports with the help of Generation Esports’ “Gaming Concepts” curriculum. The program draws on the five SEL core competencies—self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills—to motivate teachers and administrators to adopt video gaming as a catalyst for SEL. Presenter: Andrew Lombardo, account executive, Generation Esports.

Students who never participated before…

Esports: From Startup to Scholarships: Last year, 200 colleges offered close to $16 million in eSports scholarships while students who had never before participated in clubs and athletics became the leaders of their gaming teams. Tami Lundberg, the chief technology officer at Fresno USD, will also show how esports motivates students to learn skills in coding, game design, shoutcasting, marketing, and communication.

Mental health and career pathways

It’s Time to Normalize Esports in Education! The pandemic forced educators to find new ways to engage students, making this school year the perfect time to introduce esports, says presenter Kristen Craft, an educational leadership coach and academic esports specialist at Generation Esports. Esports can foster post-secondary success through gaming scholarships and training for jobs in this billion-dollar industry. Craft will cover how the benefits of esports fit into K-12 education, including improving student mental health and opening CTE pathways.

More from FETC: Why social media doesn’t have to be a nuisance in school

Building ed-tech skillsets and boosting engagement

Seizing Academic Esports’ Power to Build Ed Tech Skillsets: Esports can open up a world of learning and other dynamic possibilities for students who have become disengaged from learning. Alan Sitomer, a former California teacher of the year award winner, speaker and author, will explain how using a research-based approach to academic esports can elevate student achievement and channel the passion for gaming into workforce-ready skills.

Other esports sessions include:

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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